Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Man From Hong Kong (1975)

I could go on and on about how great this movie is: it basically does the whole Lethal Weapon crazy rampage supercop OTT thing over a decade before it *cough* happened in Hollywood. Why, it even has a cop (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, AKA Toecutter from Mad Max) with Mel Gibson's hairstyle.

There are ridiculous car chases, big explosions, lots and lots (and lots) of martial arts fights, wanton destruction of property, and reckless disregard for the lives of ordinary people caught up in events. All set to a funky 1970s soundtrack, with some breathtaking backgrounds, many of the best 1970s Ozploitation actors going, and even Samo Hung (with a gnarly glue-on scar) fighting a cop on top of Ayers Rock*!

It's glorious.

I haven't even mentioned the titular hero, Inspector Fang Sing Leng (played by Hong Kong superstar Jimmy Wang Yu). Faced with the challenge of carrying a film set mostly in Australia, Yu plows ahead relentlessly onscreen, making the Aussie cops look like nancy boys at every turn, not only using violence against suspects in his investigation of Mr. Big (played with nasty relish by George Lazenby, Mr. James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, himself), but actively trying to kill any and all bad guys as soon as possible, it would seem. He stabs, stomps, and shoots throughout with nary a second thought.

In one sequence, for example, Inspector Fang is driving a van. The bad guys attach a bomb to it, the bomb explodes, and the van rolls off the road, killing the unfortunate lady inside with whom Fang has recently had sex. Oh well.

Fang almost instantly commandeers a much better car than the bad guys are driving, and then proceeds to target their vehicles one by one, sending one car through a house and another off to the road to explode - whereupon Fang gets out of his car to make sure the bad guy (who has just been thrown clear of his wreck) is going to die. The bad guy rolls around on fire and then grows still. Satisfied, Fang returns to his car.

He has quite a way with the ladies too, continuing reminding them in a suggestive tone that he's from (ahem) "Special Branch". In his first scene, a woman accidentally hang glides onto police property; Fang has her hang glider confiscated and informs her she is to be charged. Suddenly, in the next scene, he and this woman are having sex and, when the woman asks him afterward if she may now leave with her hang glider, Fang smiles and says yes. Again, this is his introduction as the film's hero.

Part of the wonder of The Man From Hong Kong (released as Dragon Flies in the U.S.) is the way it continually jumps back and forth from being apparently progressive (in the style of James Bond, Yu has sex with more than one woman in the film, both of whom are white) to being pretty much just out and out racist. Many times, a scene may seem to be confused as to whether it's one or the other or both at once.


[Fang and a Hot White Woman have just made love]

Hot White Woman: This is nice.
Inspector Fang: What did you expect, acupuncture?

Finally, over a decade before Wanted: Dead Or Alive, this movie has the hero tape a grenade into the villain's mouth and pull the pin. All these years, I thought that was so cool of Rutger Hauer when he blew Gene Simmons' head off... *thinks* awww, I guess blowing Gene Simmons' head off will always be cool, rip-off or no. Anyways, this movie did it first and it rules.


*Yes, I know it's Uluru. It's called Ayers Rock in the film.

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